First Time Age Degeneration Reversed in Mice

In a major break- through at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, brain and testes growth, improved fertility, and restored cognitive function were observed for the first time in a group of laboratory mice injected with a controllable telomerase gene - which are the genes that form protective capes at the end of chromosomes. These findings were first published in the scientific journal Nature.

The team at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute prematurely aged mice with a telomerase switch, then reversed the switch. The goal of this experiment is to determine whether the signs and symptoms of aging can be slowed down, or even reversed. The head of the study, Ronald DePhino, MD said that, “If you can remove the underlying damage and stresses that drive the aging process and cause stem cells to go into growth arrest, you may be able to recruit them back into a regenerative response to rejuvenate tissues and maintain health in the aged."


The mice in this experiment were specifically engineered to develop acute DNA and tissue damage as the result of premature aging. Some of the conditions they experienced were, reduced testes size, low sperm count, intestinal damage, brain shrinkage, and the inability to grow new brain cells. According to Dr. DePhino, the goal of the experiment was, "We wanted to know: If you could flip the telomerase switch on and restore telomeres in animals with entrenched age-related disease, what would happen? Would it slow down aging, stabilize it, or even reverse it?"


After engineering the prematurely aging mice, the researchers supplied some of the mice with a time released estrogen drug which was placed under the skin, while a placebo was used with the other mice. After a four week period, the researchers noted some significant signs of rejuvenation among the mice which had received the drug, specifically a reversal of tissue degeneration, an increased brain size, and an increase of spleen and testes size.

Source: Nature


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